Immaculata De Vivo
Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology
Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
My research focus is to understand mechanisms of carcinogenesis and to establish association with disease for future prevention. My research base is the Nurses’ Health Study, where 33,000 germline DNA samples are available for determining inherited genetic susceptibility to cancer and other chronic diseases. I have introduced modern high-throughput genotyping methods in order to build the capacity to handle larger numbers of samples per day, implemented standard molecular biological techniques, such as cloning, RT-PCR, Western blotting, and assays to assess transcriptional effects and more recently whole genome amplification technique that will provide sufficiently robust amplification of limiting samples of genomic DNA that can be used for a variety of applications and statistically inferring population haplotypes. Some of my current projects include studying polymorphisms in hormone-metabolizing genes in endometrial and breast cancer. Findings from these studies have led to domestic collaborations with human geneticist Dr. David Housman at MIT and Dr. Daniel Cramer at BWH; and two international collaborations, Dr. Hans Olov-Adami at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and Dr. Georgia Chenevix-Trench at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia.
Following my findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science last September that a variation in the promoter region of the human progesterone receptor (hPR) gene increases the risk of endometrial cancer, subsequent studies in my laboratory have found this same association with other types of hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer. These risks are often modified by environmental factors such as obesity.
B.S., M.P.H., Ph.D.